Republican Mike Frese, a small-business owner from Corrales, says New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District needs a representative to push back against what he calls runaway abuses of power by the federal executive branch.
Frese, 66, has a background in science and engineering, including a mathematics doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and teaching experience at the University of New Mexico. His business, NumerEx, focuses on high-tech computer modeling experiments and employed 13 workers at its peak.
But Frese says he has taken on the study of history, economics and constitutional law and that new base of knowledge suggests to him that the U.S. is headed toward socialism. He said that needs to change.
“I believe that more freedom for individuals, more freedom to choose economically … would mean more jobs and more prosperity for everyone,” Frese said. “And I believe government has gotten well down that road (toward socialism) because the wrong people get in charge, and they start ignoring the process of law.”
Frese said, as a member of Congress, he would vote to rein in that executive control.
“Congress has given up that authority to control and legislate, and now we have executive agencies legislating,” he said.
A little-known candidate
Frese is a relative newcomer to New Mexico politics. In 2012, he ran and lost for a seat on the Sandoval County Commission. He said that effort prompted him to look for other places to serve.
Now, he is challenging freshmen Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., for the 1st Congressional District seat because he says Lujan Grisham has failed to represent the central New Mexico district’s interests.
Republican Party Chairman John Billingsley said Frese’s lack of name recognition will pose a challenge for his election, but said his approach to government would be a welcome change for the New Mexico district in Washington.
“When people actually talk to him and discuss the ideas that he has as far as the economy and the freedom of entrepreneurship, I think they’ll begin to understand that he has some very good ideas to put forward for Albuquerque,” Billingsley said.
Getting that message out has been a challenge for Frese.
Campaign finance reports filed in July showed Frese’s Democratic opponent with a huge cash advantage. Frese reported just $12,000 in his campaign account, compared with Lujan Grisham’s $922,000.
Frese, in a Journal interview, said he has some doubts about his ability to win over voters in light of his Democratic opponent’s financial advantage.
“I have no doubt of my ability to serve,” he said. “I have some doubt about my ability to motivate people to get behind me.”
Limiting executive control
But Frese remains focused on paring down the federal executive branch.
A key example of the federal executive’s unencumbered influence, Frese said, is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He argued the national health-care law that gives the federal government authority to regulate medical care and insurance programs is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, however, held that the law was constitutionally valid.
If elected, Frese said he would fight to get health-care oversight back in the hands of the states.
“We ought to repeal it, get rid of it, scrap it, turn all insurance regulation back to the states where it was before,” Frese said of Obamacare.
On the economy
Asked how Congress could boost New Mexico’s sluggish job growth, Frese said he would not go to Washington to bring “bacon” back to New Mexico. Instead, he said would advocate for a national economic improvement that in turn would benefit New Mexico.
To do so, Frese said he’d push to get government out of the way of small businesses by limiting regulation and revising tax policy.
“New Mexico’s boat can’t rise unless we get a rising tide nationally,” Frese said.
But Frese said he still would advocate for Sandia National Laboratories, an operation he says he understands well in light of his work in engineering and mathematics. “I know their mission, capabilities and their value to the nation, and I will not shirk from working to sell their programs in Congress,” Frese said.
On immigration, Frese says the nation can begin to address the issue by “walling off” employment opportunities and welfare benefits to immigrants in the country illegally. Those limits, he says, would remove the incentives to emigrate to the U.S. illegally and reduce the flow of immigrants.